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Buyers Learn It is Often Impossible to Buy a Foreclosure

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 posted by Tommi Crow

As bargain hunters everywhere turn their attention to foreclosures, many buyers discover that for all the hype, the homes can not be purchased.   Banks are so overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of REO (Real Estate Owned) properties, that they hold up sales and leave buyers stuck with thousands of dollars in extra costs.

Distressed properties now make up 25 percent of all homes for sale.   Many foreclosed homes have been vandalized, neglected and cause a blight on otherwise good neighborhoods.  Selling these properties would help stabilize house prices and remove inventory from the market, but the banks simply can’t keep up with the paperwork.

Take the case of the Collins family, who in January, rushed to buy a foreclosure on a picuresque, tree lined street in southern California.   They immediately obtained their financing, paid for inspections, appraisals and completed other paperwork the lender required from them.  It is now mid-April and the Collins family finds themselves still sitting in limbo.  They have yet to receive confirmation of a closing date or signed paperwork.

While common sense tells us that the housing market can not recover until the foreclosures are sold, the reality is that the banks can not keep up with the paperwork required to transfer the property.   There are a lot of layers and people, with varying degree’s of work ethic, that are involved with the sale of any bank owned property.  Further frustrating to “would be” buyers, is that they can’t just call the bank and ask what is going on.  There is no one to ask for help, as there is when buying from a real owner.

As the nation’s banks anticipate owning another 1.5 million foreclosed homes in 2009, things will likely get worse in terms of getting rid of them quickly.   Maybe outraged buyers, and the neighbors who tolerate these blights on our communities, should all cry out to their congressmen for help.  Perhaps, they can force the banks to step up their management of foreclosed homes, and force the agents and servicers to do their jobs.

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